Teika’s Ten Styles of Japanese Poetry


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Two types of poetry cards—shikishi, almost square, and tanzaku, tall and narrowly rectangular in shape—have been used to transcribe waka poems since ancient times. The unusual examples here are paired on gold-leaf-backed leaves of a large album. Most remarkably, the borders of the tanzaku have colorfully painted floral motifs meticulously cut out to create vibrant eye-catching “frames.” Eight of the pairs have the same waka inscribed—by different hands, in different styles—on both cards. The poems selected for this album categorizedwaka according to the distinctive styles advocated by the early medieval courtier-poetand literary arbiter Fujiwara no Teika (or Sadaie, 1162–1241).

Teika’s Ten Styles of Japanese Poetry, Unidentified Artist, Album of ten leaves; ink and color on paper, Japan

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